Two acrobats (Harlequin and his companion)

Pablo Picasso • Painting, 1901, 73×60 cm
About the artwork
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Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Style of art: Post-Impressionism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1901
Size: 73×60 cm
Artwork in selections: 61 selections
Audio guide

Description of the artwork «Two acrobats (Harlequin and his companion)»

The image of Harlequin passes through the works by Pablo Picasso. He first turned to the circus theme in 1900 (Pierrot and Colombina), around the same time, when he first came to Paris. And the next year he began to place Harlequin into his paintings in different variations and styles till the end of his life. In 1901, Picasso painted the Two acrobats (Harlequin and his companion).

The theme of the circus and wandering comedians is most vividly revealed in the pink period of Picasso’s oeuvre: at that time he met his first muse Fernanda Olivier who made him a regular at the Circus Medrano, situated next to the artist’s studio in Montmartre. However, the Two acrobats picture was painted either before the blue period, or in its very first months. The blue shades still do not dominate here, although they would prevail in the future works by the artist in the next few years. Later there will appear a pervasive feeling of depressive despair. But the subjects of this picture already seem detached from the world. The Harlequin, turned in profile, looks completely immersed in himself, and the woman next to him, though facing the viewer, looks as if through him.

Wandering artists, street artists symbolized the inner freedom of a creative person for Picasso, and at the same time, they were the social rejection of such people, their inability to occupy a worthy place in the society. The artist was even interested with this topic during his life in Barcelona, where he often communicated with local intellectuals and dissidents who adhered to leftist political views. He saw with his own eyes, how the poverty of many people became the underside of the rapid development of big cities.

Later on, after moving to Paris, Picasso himself was on the margins. He suffered from lack of money; he lived in terrible conditions and ate what he had to. The Two acrobats painting was only sold in 1908 to the Russian collector Ivan Morozov at the Ambroise Vollard gallery for as little as 300 francs.